Paul Fernhout

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Paul D. Fernhout is a free software developer who is interested in distributed design and manufacturing for space habitations and a thinker about Post-Scarcity economics and society.


"Paul Fernhout has been programming computers for about thirty years since his father helped him buy a KIM-1 with 1K of memory (as well as build the power supply for it). He developed one of the first artificial life simulations implementing John von Neumann's idea of robots self-replicating in a sea of spare parts on a Symbolics Lisp Machine (on which he learned Object-Oriented programming using ZetaLisp and Flavors in the mid 1980s). He has an undergraduate degree in cognitive psychology from Princeton University and a Masters from the Ecology and Evolution program at SUNY Stony Brook (among other time spent around universities, including as a volunteer/visitor at the CMU Robotics Institute). He also managed a robotics and expert systems laboratory at Princeton University. He co-developed (with his wife) a garden simulator (to help people become more self-reliant by growing their own food, and as a step towards a space-habitation simulation) for which he got the idea while spending a summer as program administrator of NOFA-NJ (an organic farm certification program).

He also helped his wife develop a simulation of botanical plant growth that lets you breed and evolve plants. Both are free, as is another program for designing voice-activated choose-your-own-adventure stories:

He has worked as a consultant for IBM Research and the IBM Internet Media Division doing projects related to embedded speech recognition, streaming video, and XML Standards (sadly his name is on an IBM software patent even though he thinks software patents are a bad idea): ;

He has also consulted for other companies as well (mainly with Python, Jython, Java, C/C++, and Smalltalk).

He has been active in the Python and Squeak communities, and even not-very-successfully tried to merge both:

He has long worked on a system called "Pointrel" for knowledge representation similar to RDF or an Entity-Relational Database:

He was involved for a time with Doug Engelbart's Bootstrapping colloquium: which is where he became especially interested in P2P themes.

He writes some essays on post-scarcity themes: including the OpenVirgle project:

He is currently working towards the "OSCOMAK Semantic Community On Manufactured Artifacts and Know-how":

He is also a stay-at-home dad these days (2008) (alternating part-time with his wife during the day) and interested in homeschooling:

He and his family live in "the largest park in the contiguous United States" where it was somewhat awkward to get high-speed internet installed. :-)"